Practice guidance on the involvement of Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs) in safeguarding adults

The appropriate adult role

The appropriate adult role is to ensure that people detained by the police, who are mentally vulnerable, understand what is happening to them and why. Where a person at risk is an alleged perpetrator they may have a right of access to an appropriate adult when they are, for example, questioned by the police.

This appropriate adult role is a very different role to the IMCA role for a person at risk. There is a significant risk of a conflict of interest if the IMCA takes this role. For example, it may go against the person's best interests to be supported in any way to understand the police's questions as this could lead them to disclose something which they might not have otherwise. It is strongly recommended here that IMCAs instructed for a person at risk are not asked, or do not offer to undertake, the appropriate adult role in relation to their clients.

Good practice point

An IMCA instructed for a person at risk should not undertake the appropriate adult role for that person.